AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 25, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 25, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 8
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate reconvened today after a weeklong President's Day recess. The big focus this week by Congress and the Administration will be on averting the $85 billion automatic discretionary budget cuts set to take effect this coming Friday.  There are also committee hearings in both the House and Senate on the issue of employment.

Federal Funding

Given that there is currently no proposal that both sides can agree on, it appears likely that the cuts related to the sequester will occur (at least for a short time) while a deal is being crafted.  The Senate is scheduled to take up a Democratic bill that includes enough cuts and revenues to as an alternative to sequestration.  However, even if the Senate passes the bill, the majority in the House of Representatives opposes any plan that includes revenues.  The White House released a memo with links to state-by-state data on the likely impact of the cuts.  It is possible that the Congress will use the continuing resolution (CR) as a vehicle for an alternative plan to automatic cuts.  The current CR is set to expire on March 27.

If the sequester is triggered, AUCD network programs should expect an at least five percent cut for FY 2013 which will not have an immediate impact but will force difficult cuts in the future, and possibly for years to come.  Many disability programs, such as the DD Councils, protection & advocacy systems, vocational rehabilitation, IDEA, and many other programs will see an immediate impact.  And, because there are only six months left in this fiscal year, the impact of the approximately 5% cuts will be doubled to 10%.  AUCD continues to advocate for action by the Congress on a more balanced approach to deficit reduction.  AUCD encourages the network and its supporters to contact their Members of Congress, state officials, and the media with information about the impact these cuts will have on people with disabilities and families.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education has scheduled a hearing for March 13 on FY 2014 funding.  AUCD has requested an opportunity to testify.


Delaware Governor Jack Markell will be the lead witness at a hearing tomorrow of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) titled "State Leadership and Innovation in Disability Employment."  AUCD assisted in bringing in Jane Boone, a consultant at the Washington State Employment Leadership Network to testify.  Also testifying are Mike O'Brien, executive director, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and Don Uchida, executive director of the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation.  Governor Markell, the current chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), has also made employment for people with disabilities a major topic discussed at their annual meeting this week.

The Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee of House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), has also scheduled a hearing for Tuesday titled "Putting America Back to Work: Reforming the Nation's Workforce Investment System."  Panelists have not yet been announced.

In other employment news, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued the final regulation concerning the excepted service appointments of persons with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. These final rules eliminate the current requirement that an applicant supply a "certification of job readiness" in order to be appointed pursuant to this authority, proposes a change of wording, and provides other clarifications on appointments under this authority. 


Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) reintroduced a bill (H.R. 777) to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require a notice period before lawsuits may be brought against businesses under Title III of the ADA.  AUCD opposed a similar "notification" bill in the 112th Congress.  The ADA has been a law for over 20 years.  Businesses have had ample time to come into compliance.

Health Care

The Department of Health and Human Services released a final rule related to essential health benefits that insurance plans are required to cover in the exchanges.  The Affordable Care Act of 2010 outlines 10 broad categories of care, including emergency services, maternity care, hospital and doctors' services, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, behavioral and mental health and prescription drugs. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) had urged the Department to clearly define standards of care within the essential benefits, especially habilitation and behavioral health services that many insurance plans currently do not cover. Unfortunately, the final rules do not vary greatly from the proposed rules and give states a lot of flexibility in what will be covered in the 10 categories.  For more information, see the press release that also includes links to the text of the final Rule.

Medicaid NPRM

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Health Task Force submitted comments last week on proposed rules that address cost sharing (including cost-sharing in long term services and supports) in the Medicaid program, appeals processes, aspects of choosing the alternative benefit plan that will be offered to people who enroll in Medicaid as part of the expansion and guidance on the essential health benefits that must be included in the Medicaid alternative benefit plans. See the full comments on the CCD website.

 For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

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